Field Test: Treestands for Under $100

Have you noticed that virtually all the top-shelf hang-on treestands cost north of $200 these days? That’s crazy. Totally nuts. I don’t know anyone who spends that kind of money on a lock-on. Do you?

I do know, on the other hand, that you can get a perfectly good general-purpose model for less than half that. It’ll be constructed of steel (not aluminum), so it’ll be a little heavier. And it will probably have fewer bells and whistles. But it’ll do the job without mugging you. Here are four great examples.

Field & Stream Timberline

$79.99; dickssporting​goods.com. Outlet Price: Same

BARGAIN RATING: Excellent • Ease of Use: Very good • Features: Excellent • Comfort: Very good • Stealth: Very good

SPECS: Steel construction; nylon cinch strap • 19.8 lb. • 293⁄4" x 24" platform with footrest • 19" x 12" fabric seat • 300-lb. capacity

COMMENTS: Before anyone cries foul, F&S the magazine is in no way affiliated with this maker. The Timberline just happens to be a solidly made, comfortable, roomy stand at a killer price. What really puts it over the top are the excellent ­platform- and seat-­leveling systems, which no other stand here has. It doesn't bite into the tree that great, so bring an extra ratchet strap to crank it down tight.

Muddy the Boss XL

$129.99; gomuddy.com. Outlet Price: $99.99 (sportsmansguide.com)

BARGAIN RATING: Excellent • Ease of Use: Very good • Features: Very good • Comfort: Very good • Stealth: Excellent

SPECS: Steel construction; nylon cinch strap • 20 lb. • 271⁄2" x 25" platform with footrest • 18" x 12" cushion seat • 300-lb. capacity

COMMENTS: The Boss XL's strap attaches to the stand via two loops in the nylon webbing, letting you instantly undo either end to switch the buckle to whichever side makes hanging easier—a handy feature. With no metal hook, the strap is quieter, too. The XL goes up solidly and the metal has a great, no-slip finish. Like the platform, the seat is big, but the foam is a little cheap and squishy.

X-Stand the Champ

$119.99; x-stand.com. Outlet Price: $99.99 (sportsmansguide.com)

BARGAIN RATING: Very good • Ease of Use: Very good • Features: Good • Comfort: Very good • Stealth: Very good

SPECS: Steel construction; nylon cinch strap • 20 lb. • 271⁄2" x 25" platform with footrest • 18" x 12" cushion seat • 300-lb. capacity

COMMENTS: No single feature of the Champ jumps up and grabs you. It's a sturdy, roomy stand that goes up fairly quickly and quietly, bites firmly into the tree, and has a good-size, comfortable seat. The company lists the platform at 34 inches deep, but that includes the upswept footrest portion, which you can't really stand on. Bottom line: It's a basic but well-made steel hang-on for a very reasonable price.

Millennium M25A

$99.95; millenniumstands.com. Outlet Price: Same

BARGAIN RATING: Good • Ease of Use: Good • Features: Very good • Comfort: Excellent • Stealth: Poor

SPECS: Steel construction; chain attachment with secondary ratchet strap • 19 lb. • 291⁄2" x 24" platform with footrest • 20" x 16" fabric seat • 300-lb. capacity

COMMENTS: This is a really well-made stand—built to last with probably the best seat in the business. I just can't get past the chain attachment. A chain is always making unwanted noise, and you can never get it quite as tight as a good strap. That said, if noise isn't a big factor for you—say, if you'll hang the stand well ahead of the hunt and leave it for a while—the M25A will serve you very well.

The Test

After assembling the stands, I weighed them with my scale and measured dimensions with my tape. Then I hit the woods to test for the following:
• Ease of Use With a timer running, I hung each stand—twice—to see how quickly and easily I could attach it securely and be ready to hunt.
• Comfort I sat in each stand for several hours to gauge how comfortably a hunter could spend the good part of a day in it.
• Stealth I toted each model through the woods to see how easily and quietly it carried. I also paid attention to noise while hanging the stand, and then torqued the metal to check for creaks.
• Features I gave extra credit for any unexpected or especially good features (such as the Millennium seat) in this price range. —D.H.